Death of the Book (or just Borders)

After being cooped up all day yesterday indoors thanks to Hurricane Irene, we decided that we needed to get out of the house today. While we were out, we made what will most likely turn out to be my last trip to Borders. Ever. (Insert sad face). I had been there the week of the announcement that they were closing. It was a mad house. The sales weren’t even that good (in fact they have been accused of raising the original prices before the sale), but I think people were just hoping to get the books they wanted, not knowing what the aftermath of all this was going to be.

Today, the store was a little less crazy, although the site of it tore at my heartstrings. Some shelves were completely empty, others so bare it was pathetic, and many were already missing after being sold. The sale was 50-70% off during this last visit. Pretty good, if you could actually find a book that you might like. I stuck to the sci-fi/fantasty. This was one of the more devoured sections, but I managed to find a couple books.

I bought Reaper’s Gale and Dust of Dreams, both by Steven Erikson. They are books seven and nine in the Malazan Book of the Fallen Series. I have currently only finished books one through four, but I knew I would be reading the rest of the series. I had downloaded the sample on my Kindle of book five, and after writing the first post of my Bookish Behavior series, it got me in the mood to finish this series, and soon. So, I have two books to read before I can touch one of these, but for $5, how could I pass it up?!

As I was walking around Borders, it got me thinking. I was clearly sad about the whole thing. I used to have my “weekly Borders trip,” as James called it. We would go, I would walk the aisles, perusing the shelves, and usually end up taking a book home, much to James’ dismay. Sure, there were times that I didn’t buy anything, but even then, I loved to go. It was something about the atmosphere, the experience. It’s hard to put into words. What I know most is that I will miss it. I have never cared much for Barnes & Noble, and I am not excited about the Books-A-Million they are building down the road. I don’t even know of a small bookstore around here. So where does that leave me?

Many people blame sellers like Amazon or the e-book for the end of Borders. If this was the case, how is B&N still in business? While I am sure they both played a role, I think Borders was responsible for it’s own demise. I am not sure they adapted well enough to the changing technology, or at least not as well as their competitors. Their e-reader, Kobo, was no comparison to the others, such as the Kindle and Nook. The battery life was less, the quality of both the product and the print was worse, and the amount of books available was a fraction. To my knowledge, there was a point when the Kobo wasn’t even WiFi or 3G enabled. Keep in mind, the price tags were all around the same.

That was the thing that always baffled me about Borders, the prices. I know that the books were usually the price listed on the back, which I was fine with. But that’s the main reason people buy online, right… the reduced cost and usually a bigger selection. I love shopping online, but to me, there was always something satisfying about going to the store and buying it, even if the price was a little more. But when I would look at the prices of some of their items, like DVDs, it amazed me. $40 for a terrible B-list movie? Maybe if Borders hadn’t tried to extract every penny they could, they might have been able to get more customers from their competitors. Or maybe that was just a sign of the downfall.

I admit, I am guilty of buying in to the e-reader craze. Just because I am guilty of doing it, does not mean I feel guilty for doing it. I love my Kindle. I struggled for a long time about whether or not I should get one, a large part because of how I love the feel of an actual book in my hand. But those things are so darn convenient! I read an article the other day that was saying how eventually, because of e-books, books in general will be no-more, they are just a passing hobby. How can e-readers be responsible for the death of books when I buy twice as many now because of that thing? I can have a book in 60 seconds, read it anywhere, including on my computer at work (only during breaks, I swear), which makes me read quicker and then buy another book!

I don’t believe in all the doom and gloom about the death of the book. I will admit that the idea of print is becoming out of date. Sure, a print-free world might mean less paper use, but I just don’t see it happening, at least not in the near future. I am one of the last people who wants to get rid of printed books. I was just talking to James earlier today about the smell and feel of a new book. I would miss that too much. I know there are people out there like me. So, while I am sad about the death of Borders (R.I.P.) I am confident of the future of reading.

What are your thoughts?


  1. The bookstore. I love going and browsing or perhaps picking up a book to skim. There is always something to do when you have that bookstore.Will Barnes and Noble see more business or are they doomed as well…

  2. I think Barnes and Noble will get more customers, the ones that just want a bookstore. I personally don’t like their setup or customer service, but I am sure I will be one of the ones to make the switch. However, I do also think that B&N has managed the company better and marketed the Nook enough to stay in the game.

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